New Brunswick

Angry seniors demand answers about nursing home fee changes

Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers still hasn't made a key decision about how nursing home fees will be calculated, a group of about 100 angry seniors in Fredericton heard on Friday.

Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers hasn't decided what will happen when seniors sell their homes

Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers spoke to packed hall of seniors about nursing home funding on Friday. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The minister responsible for nursing homes in the province met with more than 100 angry seniors in Fredericton on Friday to answer questions about controversial changes to how nursing home fees are calculated.

Debbie McCormack travelled from Saint John to attend the meeting in Fredericton. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
But Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers could not answer a key onr about the value of seniors' homes.

Starting in the fall, the cap that limits what seniors pay to $113 per day will be removed for those whom the government deems can afford to pay.

"For those who cannot afford to pay, nothing will change. Long-term care will continue to be subsidized," Rogers stressed during the meeting, organized by members of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights, and the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

But the government will start including money in seniors' bank accounts in deciding whether they're eligible for subsidies for nursing home costs.

The value of their homes won't be considered, but Debbie McCormack travelled from Saint John to ask the minister what will happen if seniors like her mother sell their home and put the money in the bank.

"Will the money from the family home be included in her assets?"

I've been collecting people's ideas into what they think is fair and reasonable, and this will definitely be included in the design of a policy.- Cathy Rogers, social development minister

Rogers says she still hasn't decided.

"At this point, I have been collecting everyone's input, which is what we said we would do. Which is why we didn't have the details to announce immediately," she told reporters after the meeting at the Fredericton Legion.

"I've been collecting people's ideas into what they think is fair and reasonable, and this will definitely be included in the design of a policy."

The measures were announced in the budget, but Rogers says she's consulting with seniors to figure out the details.

McCormack urged Rogers to scrap the changes.

"I would suggest to the minister that you back to the drawing board and look at what we wanted when we went to the [budget consultation] sessions, which was, increase the HST," she said to applause.

Rogers replied that raising the sales tax is "in some ways, a lazy way to find a solution," which was greeted with boos and jeers.

"I'm not saying it's off the table," she added.

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